Two nightmare turnaround flights for Air New Zealand passengers

Air New Zealand has had a disastrous week after two of its flights failed to make it to their destinations.

On Wednesday afternoon, Flight 623 left Auckland Airport at 2:20pm but never made it to Queenstown. Strong tailwinds prevented the plane from touching down on the notoriously difficult runway, and it had to be redirected to Christchurch.

After 40 minutes of refuelling, during which time all passengers had to remain on board, the flight finally took off again - back to Auckland.

Passengers were furious at the news and there were lengthy queues for the toilets on the A320 due to the unexpectedly long flight, NZME reports.

Five hours after leaving the city, the plane landed back in Auckland. Passengers were given hotel accommodation and booked onto a flight back to Queenstown on Thursday morning.

It was only the first turnaround drama for Air New Zealand. 

Flight 289 took off from Auckland Airport just before midnight on Saturday evening, bound for Shanghai.

But halfway through the 12-hour journey, the pilot made an unexpected announcement: the plane had to turn back to New Zealand because Chinese authorities hadn't given the aircraft permission to land.

Eric Hundman, an Assistant Professor at NYU Shanghai, was onboard the plane and tweeted about his experience, calling it "a new level of China Bad".

Other Twitter users speculated about what might have gone wrong, with some blaming Air New Zealand for not obtaining permission for a new aircraft (ZK-NZQ) to enter Chinese airspace.

Aviation professional Andrew Poure said it was "unusual".

"Scheduled carriers normally get seasonal landing permits for China and we're nowhere near a seasonal changeover," he wrote.

Air New Zealand has been approached for comment in regards to both Flight 623 and 289.